Posted in anxiety, autism, Friendship

My experience with friendship

The topic of friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. Early last year, I made a new friend. We got really close. We bonded over our love of plushies, and soon learned we had other things in common, such as having anxiety, autism, and our Christian faith. She is a very valuable part of my life. We started chatting nearly every day, with breaks in between. I enjoyed it. Though the past little while, I have been become to feel very exhausted with the constant chatting. As much as I still enjoyed it, it started to interfere with other things I needed to get done. I begun to feel overwhelmed with everything. Especially with the addition of family traumas and illnesses and general covid-19 exhaustion.

This has caused me to take a step back from the friendship. We are still friends but I have taken a step back from feeling like I need to say hi every day. I just let the message sit there until I have the mental and emotional energy to invest in taking the time to read it and respond to it.

This has allowed me time to think about and compare this to past moments of friendship in my life. When I was younger, I did not have many friends. I grew up the middle child of three girls, all relatively close in age, so they were like built in friends even though we also got on each others nerves a lot growing up. There were times that I felt like they were spending time without me. I think those times were times I most noticed how different I was, even though I did not yet know about autism.

In early elementary school, I kind of thought of all the girls in my class being my friend. In particular, certain girls. Or really any girl who would talk to me nicely. I had a friend in kindergarten and grade 1 who I knew from pre-school. As I got older, more girls would include me or try to include me in their games or activities at lunch and recess time. I did not really understand the rules of socializing and did not approach other girls myself, so I would walk around the school by myself if they did not approach me.

As I got older in grade 5 and 6, I had more of a defined group of friends and also soon learned that not all the girls in my grade got along with each other, and I had to pick a side. I could not just be friends with anyone who was “nice” to me. Though, maybe they were just playing nice to me. I could not really tell. I got my first official “best friend” in grade 6. We would hang out with each other all the time, doing crafts, and going for walks, playing with our gerbils…. It was nice.

Though, I usually felt I had to hide parts of myself when around friends. Until I felt like they would accept that part of me, I did not want to risk being vulnerable around them. When I got to grade 7, I met new friends and reconnected with some old ones at my new school. In high school, I started to get more comfortable having my own interests. Although, I still got nervous to share my new interests with others until I learned they liked them too. I had an amazing group of friends in high school, I felt I could be myself around them for the most part. Though there was a time when I started to feel like I wanted to share more of myself but nervous how they would take it. The biggest part of myself that I wanted to share but that I was nervous to share was when I got my autism diagnosis (Asperger’s Syndrome, in addition to Generalized anxiety disorder, Dysthymia and a mild language use disorder). I eventually blurted it out to them… though I do not know if they remember it as I do not talk about it much. I still count them as friends today even though we see each other maybe once a year, and now that two of them are moved further away, it may be even less than that going forward.

Friendship is so difficult for me. I have not developed good boundaries when it comes to friends. I tend to listen listen listen to friends and not say my own things because I am nervous how they will take it. There are times I have shared vulnerabilities and later feel very anxious because I revealed too much about myself. Even if they were very supportive of what I said, I might still feel like I revealed too much. But in particular, if I find they may not have understood me completely.

My preferred method of saying things is through the written word so I can express my whole thought. I like having time to think of what I am going to say.. which is why instant messaging type of chatting is difficult for me. I need time to think of what I will say and sometimes I need to give it a day to rest before responding again. I am still learning about myself and what works for me. Life is a journey of constantly re-evaluating what works for me and others. I want to be an advocate for autism but also am nervous about being too vocal about my diagnosis. I want to inspire others but also do not want all the attention.

In other news… we got much needed rain today!! After one of the hottest summers, we got our first major heat wave back in late June and July was super dry, barely any rain, and now we got much needed rain and the temperature is less than 20 degrees Celsius! WOOHOO!!! Praise God!

That’s all for now. Have a great day. – Heather

Posted in anxiety, autism

Ruminating

To ruminate is to think deeply about something. I do this a lot. I do this almost every time after I have an unusual social situation, usually where chit chat is involved. For example, yesterday evening when I accepted a food delivery from a Skip the Dishes driver. I worry if I came off rude or awkward. I worry about situations where I might be misunderstood. I am sure everyone does it to some degree but some people do it more than others.

Eventually I can let it go. Although, usually it is still at the back of my mind, ready to be recalled when I want to schedule another delivery or whatever. I realize, though, that other people are not as focused on me as I think. As I get older, I am more and more comfortable in my own skin and more comfortable with my own weirdness and not caring of how I look to other people. We are all a little weird. Almost everyone is just trying to blend in, but naturally will be weird with their closest, trusted people and companions.

LET’s MAKE WEIRD the NEW NORMAL! 🙂

Posted in autism

How does autism affect me?

Hi all,

I have an autistic spectrum disorder. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer a diagnosis in the newest DSM categories because it is all now under Autism spectrum disorder. It doesn’t mean Asperger’s Syndrome ceases to exist – it just means that we are using different language to describe what it is. Autism is a spectrum, no person with Autism is the same as any other person with Autism.

It is so difficult sometimes to know what things are autism and what things are normal. It all feels normal to me. What is normal anyway? Over the past few years, I have been on a journey of self-discovery and I am so much more comfortable in my own skin and with who I am today than I was at 16 years old.

Some days are better than others though. Sometimes I manage to say the right things and feel like I am masking any oddness, and other times I say something that comes across awkward or weird.

In addition to being on the autism spectrum disorder, I am an introvert, I have an anxiety disorder, I have struggled with mild depression, and have some mild language use issues. Growing up, I was an observer, also selectively mute. When I was at school, I was extremely shy and would barely speak and when I did, my voice was often very soft and whisper like. I was so conscious of following the rules, but the rules were not always clear.

As I got older, the rules became more clear, and I had a lot more knowledge to guide my decisions. Though I am still very indecisive. I think my indecision is brought on because I over think. When I am faced with a decision, I tend to start thinking of what might happen in which scenario. Then I fixate on certain outcomes, which means I temporarily forget that there may be other possible outcomes. I over think to the point that I freeze and can not make a decision because I can not figure out the right decision. It is especially difficult when the decision is something that is supposed to be for fun but I am taking it too seriously. I worry about making a decision that someone else might not like.

Lately with this Covid-19 corona virus pandemic, this has affected me in new ways. For example, I just came back from the grocery store. There is only one entrance now, to control how many people are in the store. Thankfully, it was not too busy at the time I went, so I did not have to wait in a line today. I got nervous initially because I did not see any baskets by the entrance. I also saw an employee manning a “sanitation” station and I wondered, What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to sanitize my basket when I get it or when I leave the store afterwards? Or is am I supposed to leave my basket there so he can sanitize it? Or is it just to make us feel safer? I had fully expected to see sanitizer available to wipe down the basket or for hands but I am always confused when to use it. I do not want to look awkward in my attempt to use it. What if I use it wrong? I am so anxious all the time of doing something wrong, worrying that people will judge me if I am doing something the wrong way. It is why I prefer to observe first. This is a new situation. I used to be able to go to the grocery store knowing what to expect. So I got used to it. It still caused me anxiety some times. But this is causing me anxiety every time. AND to top it all off, this grocery store is always out of all paper products!! I need to get more toilet paper and paper towel. I will try going out later today or tomorrow or the next day to another store and hope for the best.

Okay, that is all I have to say for today. That was a lot. But I haven’t wrote anything down for awhile and it always so much easier to type and I have a lot of thoughts on my mind. I want to write a book about a girl on the autism spectrum but I am not sure what ideas I have for it. I was thinking maybe of writing a fan fiction but then now realizing maybe I should just write a new original story.

Take care! ~ Heather

Posted in autism

A Bride with Autism

I got married two weeks ago! I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome over 10 years ago, as a teenager. For the most part I feel like a normal human being and try to fly under the radar and not draw attention to myself.

A wedding is all about the bride and groom, especially – as so many people told me – the bride. So it can be very difficult for a lady with ASD and an anxiety disorder as well. It was especially difficult to plan a wedding alongside a full-time job, and also trying to have time to relax and recharge. It really helped me and my partner to plan a very small wedding with only our immediate families. We had a lot of help and offers of help from our families.